Marshall school board opposes Blunt choice to state school board

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Marshall Board of Education went on record Tuesday, Dec. 19, as opposing Gov. Matt Blunt's appointment of Donayle Whitmore-Smith to the state Board of Education.

Whitmore-Smith, 38, of St. Louis, has a record of actively supporting school voucher and tax credit programs aimed at increasing options for parents and students. But her critics say that stance makes her unqualified to serve public education in the state.

The Marshall board's resolution says, in part, "The Board of Directors for the Marshall Public School District finds it discouraging that the Governor would appoint an individual, with an anti-public education agenda, to oversee the establishment of education policy for all public schools in this State."

The board joins a chorus of public education organizations and advocates, including the Education Roundtable, voicing opposition to Whitmore-Smith's appointment.

Whitmore-Smith reportedly has headed School Choice Missouri, an organization that advocates school vouchers and tax credits as the means of increasing choice in education.

The School Choice Missouri Web site displays the assertion that "Parents need the power to choose a school based on its quality and their child's needs, not their address."

She also founded the Ptah Academy of Arts & Science in 2001, a private school that reportedly operated for about four years.

Marshall school board President Jeanette Klinge said she and the board have no objection to private education. The problem they have is with the use of public money to fund private schools, she said.

Marshall Superintendent Rob Gordon noted that public education advocates are especially concerned that Whitmore-Smith's appointment could indicate a trend.

Whitmore-Smith's appointment is subject to Senate approval. If approved, her term would expire July 1, 2012.

Blunt had previously appointed Whitmore-Smith to serve on the Missouri Women's Council.

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